Over tiny cups of scalding, frothy sugar water that Senegalese people call “tea,” I have a chance daily to sit around with my fellow MFI employees and talk microfinance. The other day, I was sipping my tea with Moussa, a loan officer, and he told me about how credit is established in Senegal. Now, in America, a credit rating is a logical thing, based on the percent of your total credit you’re using, the type, duration and size of your credits, and your...Continue Reading >>
Stories tagged with All
Today is my last day as a Kiva Fellow working in Guatemala City. I will admit that in recent weeks my mind has been wandering to the luxuries of home: ethnic food, safe and timely public transportation, dishwashers, smog laws, etc… But as always, when leaving a new “home”, I know that I will miss the experiences and friendships that I have been lucky enough to experience while here.
As one of my fellow Kiva Fellows pointed out in an earlier post, we fellows tend to receive credit for the support that all of you lenders are really giving. I wish I could offer you one of the glasses...Continue Reading >>
After almost two months living in Puno, Peru and after a few embarrassing moments when tourists I encountered asked me for advice about visiting Lake Titicaca and I had to sheepishly admit that I hadn’t yet embarked, I decided it was time to make the trip. In my defense, I had been waiting for the rainy season to pass and for someone to go with. Luckily, last weekend both my prerequisites were met.
Through a Kiva connection, I met a fellow microfinance worker, Zoe, who was conducting surveys on microfinance interest rates in Puno. In the good and admittedly much needed company of...Continue Reading >>
I am living in Kisumu, Kenya. Here is a picture of the street where I volunteer, in the Nyalenda slum.
Walking around the slum, one quickly comes across evidence of the post election violence. Burned buildings are common. As are random herds of goats.
White people in Kisumu are usually in self-contained SUVs. Not too many ever enter the Nyalenda slum. As a result, as I walk, I am usually chased by children.
If I stay in one place for too long, they gather to stare.
In the slum, you find many teenage girls. Their stories show...Continue Reading >>
The other day, I walked around Saida‘s old town in southern Lebanon and just soaked in the mood of the place. The old town is far removed from the modern part of the city where cars dominate. Here, people go about their business in the narrow streets and interact in a far more intimate space. Tourists are just beginning to discover the place, though they rarely go much deeper than the soap museum on its outskirts.
A number of NGOs have been involved in this part of town for years, where the level of poverty tends to be quite a bit higher than the national level. Also, the...Continue Reading >>
I have always wanted to write something about our transport system and the huddles involved for one to get to work early and let it be printed in the papers but again part of my mind said why not for us here! Eeh before I forget, taxi are the matatus we use here in Uganda, while ‘Maaso awo’ means find the next stage for me to get off.
As a Kiva Coordinator, Pearl Microfinance, the work I do involves a lot of movements with so many hardships, but if all this is to be added on to the messy taxis, traffic jams and the rude taxi operators especially the conductors, then my day will be...Continue Reading >>
The other day in the Mission district at Kiva headquarters in San Francisco, I converged with three micro enterprises, on just one corner. A young man selling fresh oranges, a Popsicle and ice-cream cart vendor, and another man with a tall stick of cotton candy- $2 each. Although this coincidence is quite novel, it does explain another, larger phenomenon. Perhaps the true impact of small businesses in the U.S. is underestimated. AEO, the association for Enterprise Opportunity, says that 87% of all businesses in the U.S. are microenterprises, businesses with fewer then 5 employees.
I recently picked up The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It by Paul Collier, Professor of Economics and Director for the Study of African Economics at Oxford University and former director of Development Research at the World Bank. It has been a grim and simultaneously enlightening book, dubbed as a must-read by the New York Times and set to become a classic according to the Economist.
In a nutshell, The Bottom Billion states that our perception of development for the last forty years has...Continue Reading >>
West Timor is the country equivalent of Robert Downey Senior. The usual reaction is “West Timor? I didn’t know there was a West Timor. But I’ve heard of East Timor so I suppose it makes sense”.
And indeed it does make sense, especially if you live here. West Timor, formerly a Dutch colony until it was un-clogged in 1945, is on an island towards the eastern side of Indonesia (Timur conveniently means “east” in Indonesian) but, it should be stressed, not the most easterly island as that is Papua and or West Papua (to clarify please see www.google....Continue Reading >>
It’s taken me some time to “get my feet on the ground” microfinance wise. So many distractions upon arriving in a new country, community, culture, family–not to mention learning my way around ASDIR, Kiva’s partner bank. After almost 6 weeks here, this is my first post that focuses on microcredit.
I have visited almost 50 Kiva borrowers since arriving here, but these two stand out for me as exemplifying the role that “having access to credit” can play in the lives of the hardworking and resourceful poor.
The first, is an interview...Continue Reading >>